We often fail to keep resolutions – but writing in a notebook brings great rewards

Scribbling down our thoughts is a great way to make sense of things – and very satisfying

In 1989, when I was 16, I moved into a pub with my parents and my younger brother, Matty. It was highly exciting. I took to barwork as I liked the chat, and also enjoyed the opportunities offered for eavesdropping. I was curious about the adult world and up until then had learned most of what I knew from books. Now I had all these real lives to study. I should write some of this down, I thought, and would scribble into my diary before bed.

We couldn’t believe how busy it was that first Christmas, culminating on New Year’s Eve, when everyone piled out into the main street at midnight and exchanged drunken embraces and warm wishes for 1990. After the pub had emptied and the mammoth job of clearing up was done, we gathered with our staff for a few drinks and the chat turned to resolutions. All the women wanted to lose weight. A couple of people wanted to stop smoking. I announced very firmly that I wanted to write a novel.

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